For Philly Boxers, Three's A Charm Raheem, Cauthen And Reid Earn Berths In Olympics

Posted: April 19, 1996

AUGUSTA, Ga. — With his compatriots already lugging garish commemorative belts around their waists, Philadelphia's third bet to make the U.S. Olympic boxing team felt the weight of a city upon him.

``I was thinking, `Man, they're in the Olympics. Now I've got to get there,' '' North Philly resident David Reid said.

Done.

Inspired by the feats of fellow Philadelphians Zahir Raheem and Terrance Cauthen, not to mention the presence of a half-dozen training partners who drove 12 hours to be here, the 22-year-old Reid beat Darnell Wilson, of Lafayette, Ind., 20-5, at the Olympic box-offs for the right to be Team USA's light middleweight (156-pound) representative.

Raheem, a 19-year-old bantamweight (119) from Mount Airy, beat Harrisburg's Steven Carter, 16-4.

Cauthen, a 19-year-old East Oak Lane resident, outpointed Jermaine Fields, of Washington, D.C., 11-6, to earn the lightweight (132) crown and also win the right to fight at the Olympics in Atlanta, July 19 through Aug. 4.

They are the first Philadelphia boxers to make the Olympic team since Meldrick Taylor and Tyrell Biggs earned spots in 1984.

As far as the record books show, no U.S. city has sent more than two boxers to an Olympic competition.

Lou Duva, who helps train Raheem, beamed at the result. So did Team USA coach Al Mitchell, a Philly native who now lives in Marquette, Mich., and coaches at Northern Michigan University.

``I think it's a tribute to Philly,'' Duva said. ``I'm happy to see a fight town like Philly turn up some kids like this. For a while, they were extinct. They were all turning pro.''

That was nearly the fate of the three Philadelphians.

``I saw them last year,'' Mitchell recalled. ``They all wanted to turn pro. I told them that if they stayed amateurs, they could all be here, now.''

They listened, said Mitchell, figuring they could use an Olympic experience to launch pro careers the way Taylor and Biggs did. Of course, they each won gold medals that year, at 125- and over-201-pound classes, respectively. Cauthen said it's fair to expect as much from him and his friends.

``This job is not over yet,'' Cauthen said. ``We're going to set another record. We're going to win gold.''

To get a shot at gold, they had to wade through a field of seven other boxers April 3-7 at the Olympic Trials in Oakland, a double-elimination tournament. The three Philadelphians emerged without a loss, and therefore needed only to win last night to make the team.

The Philly trio fought the second, third and fourth fights, in ascending order of their weights. They fought the winners of the Oakland losers' bracket in front of an anemic crowd generously estimated at 2,200 by organizers at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. The contingent of fans from Philly was easily the most vocal, and Reid said that fueled him against the determined Wilson.

``It made me fight harder,'' Reid said. ``They've seen me train. I wanted them to see me fight here.''

It seemed as if Reid would need every bit of help he could get. Wilson attacked Reid the entire match, especially in the second of the three rounds when his long left jab frequently found Reid's face. Reid, who landed bombs in the first and third rounds, confessed his surprise at his wide winning margin.

``I thought it would be a lot closer,'' Reid said, holding ice to his swollen left eyelid. Wilson offered no dispute of the computer-scored tally.

Neither of the other Philly fighters faced nearly as much trouble as Reid.

Raheem took an early hook to his cheek from Carter, but remained relatively untouched until the end, when Carter tagged him again. In between, Raheem used three snappy combinations in the first round to command Carter's respect, then lashed a tough left jab to keep Carter away.

Cauthen was even smoother, making Fields look wooden and awkward for the first two rounds. Fields, who had at least a 3-inch height advantage on the (possibly) 5-9 Cauthen, landed a couple of jabs early, stinging Cauthen enough to make his fellow southpaw retreat for the whole third round. It's a tactic Cauthen, unlike his bullish mentor Joe Frazier, had no problem embracing.

``I boxed very sweet and slick,'' Cauthen said. ``That third round, I mean, I was ahead. I was boxing smart. Why should I jeopardize myself?''

Why indeed? Why risk the chance at becoming a part of the biggest boxing story in Atlanta? Why chance missing the shot at going from a construction worker to a boxing star, and using the considerable coaching talents of Mitchell, an admitted admirer, to get there?

Mitchell said he has always respected Cauthen's ability, and that he used to train Reid and Raheem in the Athletes Boxing Club in North Philly, from whence the rooting section came.

``Zahir, I'm like a big brother to him,'' Mitchell said. ``David? I'm like a father to him.''

Told that Reid and Company discussed sweeping gold medals the way they swept the box-offs, Mitchell emitted a fatherly chuckle at the bravado. He mumbled something about the blind draw at the Olympics and how it might fall, obviously avoiding a similar guarantee. Not that he didn't appreciate their enthusiasm.

``I wouldn't want a bunch of guys who wanted to go out and win bronze,'' he reasoned.

OTHER RESULTS

Light flyweight (106): Albert Guardado, of Topeka, Kan., the nation's top-ranked light flyweight, continued his comeback from an early upset loss in Oakland by beating Jauquin Gallardo, of San Leandro, Calif., 15-11.

Middleweight (165): Trials winner Rhoshii Wells, of Riverdale, Ga., beat Ronald Simms, a soldier who lives at Langly Air Force Base in Virginia, 18-14, to secure his spot. Wells beat Simms in the finals in Oakland, 6-2.

Heavyweight (201): Nate Jones, of Chicago, beat Davarryl Williamson, of Phoenix, 19-10, to make the team. Jones beat Williamson in their Olympic Trials final meeting, 12-4.

There are six more matches today. Any trials champion who lost yesterday or falls today must box his challenger again tomorrow, with the winner making the Olympic team.

RESULTS, SCHEDULE Results of the box-off for the U.S. boxing team:

106 - Albert Guardado, Topeka, Kan., outpointed Jauquin Gallardo, San Leandro, Calif., 15-11.

119 - Xahir Raheem, Philadelphia, outpointed Steve Carter, Navy-Norfolk, Va., 16-4.

132 - Terrance Cauthen, Philadelphia, outpointed Jermaine Fields, Washington, 11-6.

156 - David Reid, Philadelphia, outpointed Darnell Wilson, Lafayette, Ind., 20-5.

165 - Rhoshii Wells, Riverdale, Ga., outpointed Ronald Simms, Air Force, Langly AFB, Va., 18-4.

201 - Nate Jones, Chicago, outpointed Davarryl Williamson, Washington, 19-10.

TODAY'S BOUTS 112 - Eric Morel, Madison, Wis., vs. Ramases Patterson, River Route, Mich.

125 - Augustine Sanchez, Las Vegas, vs. Floyd Mayweather, Grand Rapids, Mich.

139 - David Diaz, Chicago vs. Zabdiel Judah, New York.

147 - Fernando Vargas, Oxnard, Calif. vs. Brandon Mitchem, Augusta, Ga.

178 - Antonio Tarver, Orlando, Fla. vs. Anthony Stewart, Chicago.

201-plus - Lawrence Clay-Bey, Hartford, Conn. vs. Joseph Mesi, Tonawanda, N.Y.

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